PGA Tour: Largest Margin of Victory

The Most Strokes Between Winner and Runner-Up

Bobby Locke biggest margin of victory in pga tour history
Bobby Locke (pictured in 1960) shares the record for largest margin of victory on the PGA Tour. Central Press / Getty Images

When it comes to tournaments on the PGA Tour, oftentimes the competitions' top competitors finish within a few strokes of one another, but rarely a match occurs where the winner dominates the competition, pulling ahead to score a huge margin of victory over the closest runner-up.

The margin of victory record refers to the number of strokes by which the winner beats the runner-up, and thus far in PGA Tour history, the record for largest margin of victory is 16 strokes ahead, which was achieved by four golfers from 1919 through 1948.

The first to score a 16-stroke lead over the rest of the competition was J.D. Edgar at the 1919 Canadian Open, followed by Joe Kirkwood Sr. at the 1924 Corpus Christi Open, Sam Snead at the 1936 West Virginia Closed Pro, and Bobby Locke at the 1948 Chicago Victory National Championship.

The Largets Margins of Victory

It's important to note that none of the 16-stroke margins of victory occurred during a major championship and even more important to recognize when this record was set: before the 1950s. Since then, the professional golf world has become a more competitive sport, with more and more golfers joining the tour every year and the top players have become much more evenly matched during major championships.

Interestingly, a large margin of victory has occurred in recent years when a young Tiger Woods had great success at the 2000 U.S. Open while all of his competitors had significantly worse days, resulting in Woods winning by a 15-stroke margin, setting the second-best record in PGA history and the highest margin of victory in the last 50 years.

No one else in recent PGA Tour history has even come close to winning by 15 strokes. Johnny Miller's 1975 performance during the Phoenix Open, though, did earn him a 14-stroke victory—a record shared by Gene Sarazen at the 1935 Massachusetts Open and Ben Hogan at the 1945 Portland Invitational.

Notable among the record holders with 16-shot wins: Sam Snead's win at the 1936 West Virginia Closed Pro was his very first PGA Tour win; Edgar won three PGA Tour titles, and his 16-shot Canadian Open victory in 1919 was the first of those three.

A Great Tournament for One Player, A Terrible One for the Rest

It's not often that a tournament on the PGA Tour results in a margin of victory over 10 strokes—especially not during a major championship match—but sometimes an entire field of golfers will have enough bad luck, bad strokes, and enough penalties while a singular other golfer has his best tournament ever. This, however, is mostly a fluke and hasn't happened, really, in the last 70 years — save for Woods' 2000 U.S. Open performance.

During that tournament, every other player fell into at least one hazard on the course, and many of them wracked up numerous bogeys and double bogeys on the course while Woods scored consecutive Birdies and even a few Eagles. This disparity of strokes boded well for Woods, who at the time was just entering the professional PGA Tour, while the veterans and even former champions fell far behind.

Interestingly, that wasn't Woods first major blowout, either. In 1997 he burst onto the professional circuit with a 12-stroke lead over Tom Kite to win the Masters Tournament.